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Meet Josu Ortiz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Josu Ortiz.

Josu, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am from Caracas, Venezuela. I started in music before I can even remember because my mom tells me stories about the fact that I was always hitting the tables like they were drums. One day my preschool teacher told my mom that I needed to have music lessons and at this time when I was five years old, I do remember asking my mom if I could join the choir of the school. After that, I had private music lessons and when I was 9, I started studying music at Juan Jose Landaeta Conservatory in Caracas.

After high school, I decided that I wanted to have a career in music and started studying Audio Engineering at Taller de Arte Sonoro. I worked as a musician, teaching and performing, for about six years, when I decided to take my career to a new level and auditioned for Berklee in January 2013 and got my acceptance letter in March 31st. I later graduated from Berklee and moved to New York in December 2016 and I recorded my Latin jazz album and released it in May 2017. With that album I got the incredible opportunity to record two videos for Congahead with my band. Congahead is the most important YouTube channel for Latin music in the world and it was owned by Martin Cohen, who was the founder of Latin Percussion, probably the most recognized percussion manufacturer in the world.

In April 2018, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music composition, production and film scoring. I had the blessing to meet Michael Levine and he became my mentor. I am currently writing for Mpath, a music library owned by his wife Mirette Seireg. On September 7th of 2019, I had the opportunity to participate in a concert called “An Evening Under The Stars”, which was a window for women and underrepresented composers to show their talents. It is an incredible honor for me to be part of this company that is empowering women and underrepresented composers in the industry.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My path has not been easy at all, especially because of the fact that I am from Venezuela. Everything is more difficult, for example, we do not have easy access to passports, some people have been waiting for this document for years.

Also, we have a currency control exchange, meaning that to convert money from Venezuelan currency to US dollars, we need to ask permission to the government. I remember waiting from months and months for the money to arrive to pay for school and eat and having huge credit card debts. I must mention as well the fact that most of my family is still in Venezuela, and I am always worried about their safety.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am known for being a composer, arranger and producer. I would say that the thing I am most proud of is my Latin jazz album, called “Black and White Steps”, and this Latin language has set me apart from other composers that I work with. I am also incredibly proud to be part of Mpath because they decided to become the leaders in empowering underrepresented composers; it is a huge honor for me.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment definitely was the concert “An Evening Under The Stars”, produced by Mpath and APM.

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Image Credit:
Gaia Petrelli Wilmer, Maria Alejandra Mata

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